Written by: The Administrator
There's nothing quite like an unexpected surprise plucked from the depths of our promo pit. Retrieving a random press kit from the heap and subsequently finding something weird and wonderful will never grow old, and indeed remains one of my personal primary motivations for writing here at ye olde Sleeping Village. Philadelphia's own Lástima recently dropped their forthcoming two-track EP in the ol' inbox, and, needless to say, it made for an exciting encounter.
Lástima play blackgaze through an overtly emo lens--a sub-subgenre that reflects the nature of the band's moniker with a delightful accuracy. Referring to a sense of pity or hurt, or "to be said in order to show compassion for someone in pain," lástima seemingly describes a range and intensity of emotion that feels both potent and familiar. The music itself reflects this multifaceted term quite stirringly, and that, in and of itself, is a victory in the realm of overtly emotionally driven music. Without further ado: let's dive in!
Review by: The Administrator
The first time I heard this album was not a standard listening experience.
It was nighttime, and I was walking through miles of vaguely unfamiliar neighborhoods en route to my car, which was parked--abandoned, out of necessity--on the street with a flat tire. It was blizzarding with a slow fury, the kind of dense snow that doesn't fall violently, but rather languidly, with full knowledge of the incalculable weight of its component parts. A vehicular retrieval mission was in order, but, with the full realization that the next few days would inevitably be defined by the encroaching snow-in, there was not exactly a sense of urgency. Hence: a perfect time to crank some tunes most foreboding.
Enter Ancestral Memory, a split album by the enigmatic The Sun Came Up Upon The Left and the gloriously (astoundingly? frighteningly?) prolific Everson Poe. Needless to say, a suitably significant impression was left with me in the dark and the snow. Indeed, I recently described this stellar release as "one of my very favorite albums of the year thusfar." Given the sheer quantity of quality music that rings through these humble halls, I hope that designation carries some sort of weight.
Ancestral Memory represents a brilliant meeting and melding of minds, the result of which is a harrowing, crushing, and otherwise (tastefully) overwhelming experience. It's a delicate and paradoxical balance between chest-crushingly beautiful and chest-crushingly depressive. While any attempt at genre categorization is fraught with peril--more on that later--a good ol' F(or) F(ans) O(f) goes a long way in terms of helping navigate the waters. On this particular subject, promo material namedrops Thou, Oathbreaker, Amenra, Un, Kowloon Walled City, Mizmor, Vile Creature, Windhand, and Subrosa--a list of heavy hitters if I've ever seen one. Ancestral Memory does not sound like a product of these artists per se, but the thematic and aesthetic approach is notably similar across the board: sweeping and emotive soundscapes, heavy on the atmosphere and the introspection.
Welcome back, weary traveler! Firstly, if ye missed Part 1 of this mid-year extravaganza, we highly recommend checking that out first. If you're already familiar with what this is all about, however: thanks so much for reading and returning for more! As always, we appreciate your patronage and your support, particularly now that our humble halls are filled with an exciting array of guest writers who deserve to have their words read.
Again, this collaborative list is far from exhaustive, and represents but a fraction of our collective favorites. As such, please feel free to leave a comment with a recommendation or two! List season is a great time to show the musicians that we love a little well-deserved support, and if you wanna shout someone out, this is as good a time as any. In that spirit, I'd like to once again offer thanks to everyone who helped make this list a reality and a success.
Without further ado, let's dive in! Today's list is a tad longer than the first, so pull up a chair, put up yer feet, and stay a while.
Greetings, weary traveler! We've collectively made it to the half-way point o' the year, and that can only mean one thing: a reflection on the music that has made the past six months a little more bearable. However, rather than hogging the soapbox and allowing my own personal taste to dictate the direction of proceedings, this big ol' list is a collaborative effort, with sixteen distinct music writers, musicians, and fans lending a few words. Hopefully the variety of perspective results in a list containing at least one or two releases that speak to you. For ease of reading, we've split the list in twain: the first half sits before ye now, and the second half shall follow tomorrow.
This, obviously, is far from exhaustive, and represents but a fraction of our collective favorites. If I had the time and resources, my contributions alone would surely run into the triple digits. As such, please feel free to leave a comment with a recommendation or two! List season is a great time to show the musicians that we love a little well-deserved support, and if you wanna shout someone out, this is as good a time as any. In that spirit, I'd like to offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this list a reality. We slumbering scribes offer our endless appreciation--we couldn't have done it without ye.
Enough rambling! Without further ado:
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Extirpate (verb): to root out or destroy completely. Nothing cooler than when the band name’s meaning fits so comfortably in the musical shoe. Extirpation are an Italian black metal band that formed in 2009, releasing several albums in that time. Their latest, entitled A Damnation’s Stairway To The Altar Of Failure, dropped in early 2019 (with a cassette release via Redefining Darkness in late 2020 - Ed.) and boy, is everything about this just painful and unlovable. Strap yourselves in, it’s a nasty ride.
Building their craft around uncontrollable chaos involving madness and discomfort, this release will come in quick with a piercing delivery under mildly degraded quality. That includes the riffwork and the vocals alike. Musically, it’s somewhat thrash-oriented regarding the riffs, hearkening back to the first wave of black metal. But the clashing echo of the hate-fueled drums and the unique, shattering vocal performance brings this to far higher extremes. The vocals alone are a grower for sure, but should even stand out for the seasoned listener of this style.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Truly, I have picked an incredible year to dive into black metal. Between the latest Wode release, and now this devastating beast of a group known as Craven Idol, I can’t have found a better time to jump balls-deep into this horrendous style of extreme metal. Craven Idol has been around since the early 2000s, hailing from London, England. Their third effort Forked Tongues follows the tales of the ancient serpentine beast known as Typhon, a titan of Greek mythology. I was not ready for this.
With a cover depicting Earth on the cusp of burning to nothingness, we’re met with music that blasts the Olympian narrative deep into your ears with unforgiving black metal riffing, erupting drum-blasts, and varying vocal shrieks. The occasional dropping of a death-tinted growl and oh-so subtle falsettos work in an even broader scope of madness. To be even more over-the-top, the constant use of a noisy riff gradient keeps the bottom hot. On the upper levels, you’ve got wailing passages that introduce some signs of melody, making this a monster you have to submerge your attention in to catch it all.
VULGARIS - Asundre (Review)
Written by: The Administrator
My favorite albums of the year are, more often than not, those that sneak their way into rotation...and then simply never leave. The ability to maintain interest over months and months of listening is a surefire mark of a good album, and Asundre, the excellent debut from London's Vulgaris, has managed to qualify itself pretty damn handily. This thing came out towards the end of February, and it is a rare thing indeed to locate a week since wherein it hasn't reared its multifaceted heads.
At this rate, Asundre certainly stands as one of my most-listened albums o' the year thusfar, which, in turn, probably means I should actually find a soapbox and start appropriately proselytizing. Hence:
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Anonymity is a rarity in this world nowadays. Everybody is so preoccupied with getting their voice out there, and to push their products or agenda. Rarely does anybody let their product speak for itself--and this is especially true for music. But here we are. I received the link to this album from Impostrous Lord in the DM's of my Instagram page. I was immediately intrigued due to the members of this band not being listed, desiring instead for the music to, as aforementioned, speak for itself. This is a special review for me, and I'm so happy to have had this sent to me.
This is the debut album from Impostrous Lord, entitled Devil's Veil.
Written by: Izzy
As a genre like metal ages, it is natural that there will be waves of innovation and experimentation. However, after decades, you sometimes may worry that we’re running out of ideas and closer to the end than the beginning. Like, at some point it feels like so much ground has been covered that anything new would come in the form of a ridiculous gimmick idea you’d think of while stoned, like jazz fusion nu metal or death metal played by a classical chamber ensemble (both of which already exist). It’s an exercise in both patience and persistence to continue the search for something that truly sounds like the next step.
But of course, it always comes. If you don’t let yourself get stuck in the mindset that music stopped being good at one point or another, you will always find new artists doing new things and creating new sounds, and listening to the new Victory Over the Sun album reminded me exactly why it’s worth waiting and searching for those visionaries that challenge our common conceptions and assumptions about music as an art form.
LABORED BREATH - Dyspnea (Review)
Written by: Lunar Fanatic
Dissonant black death metal is nothing new, in fact the subgenre feels a bit trite by this point. That being said Labored Breath’s debut album, Dyspnea, is a fresh, bludgeoning entry into what I’d consider one of metal’s darkest styles. This album from the one-man project from Oakland, CA wastes no time in setting the album’s tone.
Cavernous (and that description is truly earned here), bleeding dissonant notes erupt into pure auditory violence on opening track "Hypothesia." The drumming is explosive, and the guitar work swirls around it, made even more prominent by the excellent use of panning. Both ears are under constant yet varied assault throughout the album, and the beautifully raw production obscures enough detail from the surface to make diving deeper into the ocean of the winding song structures featured throughout Dyspnea.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!